A Rainy Day

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Our second day out, the rain came. It never poured, but it was constant and cold. So we decided it would be a good day to hang out in the National Museum. We started the day by trying to wait out the weather at a quaint little coffee shop next door to the hostel. We spent an hour there and decided we would just brave the rain and head to the museum. The coffee tasted like percolated death and burnt hair, but it was pretty. The National Museum is in Ueno park, which we had visited the day before. So we didn't have any trouble finding our way there. And when we arrived, we found out it was international student day, which meant we got in free with our ISIC cards. What are the chances? 1 in 365 I'd guess.

And the museum was incredibly well-done. It had several buildings housing artifacts and displays from all over Asia. I'm sure it's not for everyone. It was archaeology and what not. But we thought it was cool. And since Lindsey knows a thing or twelve about ceramics, stone tools, that sort of thing - she came in pretty handy.

The highlight of the museum was also a surprise. We saw a sign at one of the back doors that said "Japanese Tea Ceremony. International Students Only." What are the chances? I can't even guess. So we headed out the door and followed a beautiful garden path to a very classic Japanese building: sliding doors, walls look like they're made of paper, you know the type. We took off our shoes (which we did even at the hostel. gotta love it) and stepped into a scene out of Memoirs of a Geisha (yes, I've seen it. Does that make me less of a man? Probably.) We sat down on mats and a lovely young woman in incredibly cool, traditional Japanese garb served us tea and a small sweet cake. We just stared at it for several minutes until someone motioned that we could actually eat, drink, and be merry. We watched the tea preparation and serving, the bowing, the demure looks of the girls bringing and taking away trays. It was something I never expected to get to witness. And while it was staged in some sense, it was still quite authentic. We weren't in a borough of New York City, or at a Holliday Inn in San Francisco. It was a tea ceremony in a simple tea house in a gorgeous garden in the heart of Tokyo. We felt very fortunate. Lindsey informed me afterward that she almost cried. Maybe she liked it a tad more than I did, but I was pretty impressed.

We left the museum in a daze. You know, when contentment washes over you and you're having a little trouble wrapping your head around how wonderful your life is at that moment? We were only a week removed from the drudgery of normal life. Lindsey had just turned in her thesis. I had been selling my soul at a heartbreakingly awful restaurant (no offense to everyone there, but we all know it's true). So to be thousands of miles away, in this meticulously groomed garden paradise, with nothing but wonderful things in our future for the next year or two...we'll just say it made it easy to breathe.

Tokyo is a great walking city so we just wandered around in the rain. Every time we couldn't decide what to do, we'd stop and eat somewhere. The food was incredible. Curry and anything, rice and everything, ginger in obscene amounts. I thought I'd never get tired of it (I was wrong).

That night we headed over to the Shinjuku district. That's the next post.
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